Mother of six finally can read to her kids—and herself!
“I am a mother of 6 kids that range in age from six to 27. When I was 9 years old I realized that I could not read. I told myself, “When I have kids, I am going to make sure that they won’t have the same problem that I had.” So when they came home with homework I used to let the teacher know, “I can’t read. So can you please help my children with their homework?” The teacher say ‘okay.’ I am not ashamed to explain to anybody that I need help. For years I tried to get help, but in New York City they don’t have the help like you can get living here in Newport News, VA. I had to find a way to help myself and find books that interest me. I started reading urban books; books about every day street life. They made me keep pushing myself to read.
Two years ago, I sat down and thought about going to get some help with my reading and math. I always knew I had a learning disability. I was watching a TV documentary and a lady said she overcame her learning disability. That right there inspired me to get up and handle my situation of having a learning disability. I called the GED program on Dresden Drive. I had to explain to them that I was not ready for a GED. They told me that I needed special help, and they gave me the number to a place called Peninsula READS. I came in to be assessed by Adele Georges. For the next two years, she was my mentor. After receiving my scores, I started the program.
As I progressed, they retested me and my scores showed I had improved! This is my 3rd year, and I go to tutoring for Reading and for Math. I also had a Basic Computer Skills class that I have completed. This is the first time that I have ever found a program that works for me, and I really appreciate the help. The staff and tutors that they matched me with have a copious amount of patience, and they show an abundant amount of care and kindness. When you are in a comfortable environment and work with pleasant people who care about you, you can achieve a lot. I am very proud of myself. And as I see myself improving, that motivates me to keep pushing. I was told to never let anyone tell you that you cannot do anything. The tutors at Peninsula READS are there to help those who want to be helped.
Without Peninsula READS, I don’t know where I’d be. I am not giving up on myself. I am going to keep on until I achieve my goals.”
Adult Basic Literacy Learner
Shipyard worker's new reading skills propelled his career
“It’s hard to describe how it feels, not being able to read. In a way, it’s like being blind—you can’t fully interact with the world. And that’s how I lived for 40 years. It caused problems for me early on, since the kids at school would tease me when they realized I couldn’t read. I would just withdraw. Finally I quit school in the 11th grade. When I was 19, I began training as a carpenter and welder through JobCorps. I later ended up at the Shipyard. About 10 years ago, with my wife’s support, I decided to take some adult classes. I went to the Hampton library, and they sent me to a school for testing. That’s when I was referred to Peninsula READS. I realized this was my chance to finally learn to read—and be able to read stories to my grandchildren. I knew my vowel sounds, but the consonants gave me trouble. I decided if I could know the constant blends like I knew my Social Security number, the reading part would become easier.
The first book I read with my tutor was a simplified copy of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Before long, I was reading Tom Sawyer to my three little grandsons. Though they also wanted me to read them “Green Eggs and Ham.” Over. And over. Then came a big opportunity in my career: to take the Shipyard’s Nuclear Qualification Course. It was the most I’ve ever put myself into a book, and I was up every night until 3 or 4 in the morning to get through the reading. I could never have prepared for the exam without my tutor. When the exam day arrived, I had to write three pages—front AND back. And I passed on the first try!
After earning my certification as a nuclear welder, I continued going to Peninsula READS. I’ve read some amazing books with my tutor—my favorite was “Up from Slavery,” by Booker T Washington. It was truly a struggle, since it was written in the 1800s, but we finished the book. It meant more to me than anything I ever read, and I still remember a lot of the book. I’m also enjoying the cowboy story we’re on now, since I’m a Western buff.
Things couldn’t be better in my life and career. I make good money, as a leader in my field and a senior welder in my shop. I’ve broken barriers at the Shipyard—becoming the first black man to weld polypan, and one of the few to earn the Employee Recognition Award five times. If I hadn’t gone to Peninsula READS, this part of my life would not have happened. I always had a dream of owning a home and having a garden. I pictured myself in these surroundings. Now, I actually have it! I’m setting a real example for my grandsons. I owe my life, and my way of life, to my tutor, Don. I can’t thank this man enough. Knowing how to read helps you make wiser decisions. Instead of standing on a block, drinking beer and talking about what you should have done… I had the chance to actually do it.”
Adult Basic Literacy Learner
Immigrant learns enough English for GED, then college
“My name is Kim-Chi Le and I am originally from Vietnam. I came to Newport News in 1980 and did not know any English or how to function daily in America. Peninsula READS taught me how to read, but they also taught me the basic things that many people take for granted, like telling time, using the washing machine, reading street signs and understanding traffic signs and lights. They took a personal interest in my success by going with me when I bought some things, teaching me how to find the product that I would like to buy, and how to compare prices.
After Peninsula READS helped me learn basic English, I was able to go to Adult Education and earn my GED. I then went to college here at CNU and earned my degree. I was also able to take my citizenship test and become a United States citizen and I was employed at the city of Newport News with the position of the Accounting Technician for 16 years. Now I am retired but still go to school at CNU because there is a proverb in Viet-Nam which says, 'The education like the boat rise up stream. If you don’t rise, the stream will blow you down.'
Beginning a new life in America, my family and I wished to be successful and replace our prayers with the promises of America. We wish we would have a chance to repay the good people at Peninsula READS who helped us contribute to this country, USA, in any way we can.”